I understand where you are.
You’re a woman of faith. You believe in Jesus and have experienced His touch of grace and salvation on your life. You know who He is and have personal stories of who He is to you.
But you’re sad. Your feet feel like lead and there is a constant lump in your throat. Life….literally just living and breathing and existing…is exhausting.
Or you’re panicked. Your mind is anxious and unsettled, darting like a mouse in a maze. Vague possibilities floating somewhere in the future are enough to keep you up at night, and your brain is your own worst enemy.
Or you’re numb and long for some kind of feeling. Any kind of feeling.
Or you feel too much and long for numbness – just for a moment of relief.
Or maybe you wake up every morning wondering what kind of day the invisible forces inside your head will permit it to be. Will it be a good one…..or one that leaves you physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally exhausted at the end of the day as you curl into a ball and finally release the rush of tears that have pressed behind your eyes all day? Will it be another day of faking it, or will you get halfway through the day before even giving thought to how you feel? Will today drag on and on, or will you actually enjoy it? The constant back and forth is exhausting.
I know. I know you wonder if there is something wrong with you. I know you’re scared to say anything. I know you debate whether or not you really need help, or if you need to just snap out of it and get it together. And I know how you struggle in your heart with the idea of getting medical help for something that seems so straightforward and spiritual. I know how echoes of things you’ve heard in the past haunt you as soon as you consider – even fleetingly – getting professional help for what you know is not (or shouldn’t be) normal. I know how you feel weak and broken in the most personal ways that can’t be allowed into the light.
Because “Christians aren’t supposed to feel this way.”
And Jesus promised more than this, right? This can’t be what He wants for you, right?
And you worry about what it says to the world about our Jesus if we can’t just “cheer up” or “stop worrying” or “get on with life” or “fake it until we make it.”
And I know there are people who might see you as too sensitive…too delicate…too much to handle right now if they knew what’s really going on behind your “everything’s great!”facade. They might slap a label on you without your permission.
I really do know.
But I also know how an honest conversation with someone who understands can birth a new kind of hope. I know what it’s like to sit across the table from a friend who you assume is perfectly together and hear them say, “I totally get that.” I know the healing that comes when scary things are brought into the light and the relief that comes when you realize you’re not the only one battling shadows.
And I know how a big medical word diagnosis and possibly a slip of paper promising possibilities – not a quick fix, but possibilities – can bring hope. I know that when the darkness is given a name, a sliver of light breaks through. I know how it feels to have an explanation for the inexplicable things you feel.
And I know what it’s like to reach a place of understanding that you’re not broken…not messed up…not a miserable excuse for a Christian witness. I know what it’s like to realize that your body was born into a broken world, and that it – like everything else – does not always work perfectly.
I know what it’s like to dread a doctor’s appointment, only to leave feeling a tremendous weight lifted from your shoulders.
I know what it’s like to be afraid of a once-a-day pill, only to realize that it’s scarier to not take it.
I know what it’s like to completely lose yourself…and then to find yourself again on a random morning. To realize that you’re back from wherever it was that you went. To awaken to the sudden surprise that you feel good. Like…yourself.
And so, my friend, if we were sitting and sipping coffee in our favorite cafe somewhere, I would first congratulate you on telling me your story. There’s healing in that. I would hug you and tell you that you’re most definitely not the only one who feels that way, and that I and many others can and will walk this road with you. And then, if I thought it might help, my teary eyes might look into your teary eyes and tell you to go. Make the appointment. Call the doctor. Consider the option.
Because admitting that you need help navigating a world that’s not your home? There is freedom in that. You may not realize that you need freedom. You may not even notice the chains any more. You may think “bondage” is too strong a word.
But friend, you are captive to something that you do not have to be a victim to, you can be set free, and there is help. There is help in others who are wandering through this broken world just like you, and there is help in those who are trained to help you find your way.
I have been on both sides of the table. I know how it feels. As I’m writing this, I’m traveling the same road myself. But I know this doesn’t have to be normal, and I know that together we can get back to ourselves again.